On Monday (11 November), the Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said that a “strong, stable coherent political system” is required to stimulate confidence in the economy.
Speaking in an interview with Channel News Asia, Mr Chan said that this would open the door for Singapore to attract “strong economic investments, creation of good jobs, helping everybody move along amidst all the disruption, and this will allow us to support a strong political system, and a virtual cycle continues to spiral upwards”.
He also added that politics and economics are “closely intertwined”, and without strong investments, strong economic performance and good jobs, it will lead to a fractured political system.
He said this in response to a question raised on what is at stake in the next Singapore general election, which is slated to happen any time before April 2021.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had stated that the upcoming general election will determine if Singapore can maintain a good and stable government and ensure the lives and well-being of Singaporeans are taken care of.
Singapore will be done for if Singaporeans vote for political system that’s unable to reconcile differences
Separately, Mr Chan also noted that other nations have figured out that when the political system in the country is weak and unable to act with coherence, the economy becomes even weaker as they can’t help their citizens make the adjustments.
He mentioned that Singapore can be “easily torn apart” and it will be “done for” if the society fails to be cohesive and Singaporeans vote for a political system that is “unable to reconcile their difference and move forward”.
“You can’t give confidence to the investors, to make long term investments, the new jobs, the quality jobs are not created, society fragments, income stagnate, people get divided between the haves and the have nots, inequality increases and then it leads to a negative feedback onto the political system,” explained Mr Chan, who is also the second assistant secretary-general of the People’s Action Party (PAP).
He continued, “People vote for populist leaders who promise them easy solution, people vote in a Parliament that is divided and fractured, and that negative cycle continues to spiral downwards.”
“It is critical in the next general election for us to send that positive signal not just to ourselves but to the rest of the world, that we can easily go on an upward spiral and pull apart from the competition.”
In the interview, Mr Chan also talked about the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the trade war between US and China, the Republic’s innovation ecosystem as well as the relationship between GDP growth and climate change.
While commenting about Singapore’s position amid the global uncertainty, Mr Chan noted that the country must continue to strive to “have a chance to stand out” amid the global turbulence and competition.
“The first order of business in order to distinguish ourselves is to ensure we have a strong mandate that can signal to the international community that we are here for the long haul, that we mean business, we are coherent, we will execute and deliver on what we promise,” he stressed.
PAP govt’s fiscal and financial system leaves behind more resources for next gen
In terms of long term challenges, Mr Chan noted that the method the government embarks on to ensure it manages its fiscal and financial system well so that this generation leaves behind more resources for the next generation will determine the long term survival of Singapore.
He went on further to highlight that the challenges could be climate change and financial uncertainties, noting that one in every five dollars in Singapore’s budget comes from the savings stored by the previous generation.
“Whereas in countries like the US, every one out of every five dollars goes to paying the debts of predecessors. Now that is a significant difference,” he pointed out.
In order to ensure “every generation will be able to fulfill their potential” and have “the physical resources to paint their dreams upon for the next generation”, investment in infrastructure and education is important, Mr Chan noted.
“If we can get these set of issues right, then I think we can be very confident that, never mind SG100, SG 200 we’ll get there,” he positively said.